Wake up to the sun rising over the mountains and enjoy your morning coffee on your back deck while the birds chirp in the distance and the wildflowers bloom in the mountainside meadows. The sounds, smells, and views certainly beat the concrete jungle! The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed the way we live and work. Many companies are realizing that employees can work productively at home and are giving up their brick-and-mortar office buildings and transitioning to a fully remote workplace. For hundreds of thousands of workers, that means they can now live wherever they want, like the Western White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, large cities, like Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Chicago, have seen an exodus of people moving out of urban areas into more suburban or rural areas. Coupled with low-interest rates for mortgages, the housing market became a frenzy for those who could afford to buy. Jay Polimeno of Polimeno Realty said, “We’ve had a lot of out-of-state buyers who have bought homes sight unseen. Many coming from New England and the Mid-Atlantic region.” From July 2019 through July 2020, the state population grew by 5,500, which may not seem like a lot, but it was the largest population percentage increase in New England. The Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire research shows that the population growth is solely due to in-migration as deaths continue to outnumber births in the country’s second-oldest state.
While New Hampshire has seen an influx of new residents, the White Mountains region is widely known as a second home destination. Many families who own second homes in the area live primarily in Boston and other larger cities, but due to remote work and school, many of these families have transitioned to living in their vacation homes full time. The McClures are one of those families.
From Sudbury, Massachusetts, the McClures purchased their vacation home in North Woodstock in 2015 as their future retirement home. “We were up here skiing over the weekend when we realized we didn’t have to go home on Sunday,” says Chris McClure. “My job was remote at this point and they canceled school and then moved it to remote learning. We planned to move up to the mountains full-time when our youngest went to college, but we figured why not make the move now.”
The Western White Mountains are an incredible place to live year-round. There’s a ton of outdoor activities to do year-round, arts and theater, great food and drinks, and lots of friendly locals. There’s also good medical care and school systems, making it the perfect place to raise a young family. “My kids are very happy here. One goes to Waterville Academy and my youngest goes to LinWood. The main reason we decided to move here full-time was that the community embraced us,” says Chris.
The Western White Mountains have a little of everything when it comes to housing in the area. As a ski destination there are tons of condos, so if you’re looking for full-time living without the responsibilities of shoveling and home maintenance then you’ve come to the right place. There are also houses in town and in rural areas. And if you can’t find your dream home, you can always purchase land to build your own.
The region also offers a unique opportunity for those looking for a career change or business opportunity. As one of the oldest states in the country, New Hampshire is home to thousands of small businesses owned by baby boomers who are looking to retire in the coming years. “Our business broker is very busy with the year. We’ve had lots of folks relocating to the area to run businesses. If you’re looking to purchase an established small business, the White Mountains and North Country offer a lot of opportunities,” says Jay Polimeno.
The Carsey School of Public Policy study found that over 40 percent of recent migrants to New Hampshire were between the ages of 30 and 49 and they primarily moved to be closer to family and employment opportunities. One of the main reasons people continue to stay, however, is for the natural environment and quality of life.
“In Massachusetts, our kids had activities every day – music, computer coding, and soccer. When I was a kid, I’d get off the bus and go play. Now that we’re up here full-time, a neighborhood kid will come to knock on the door and ask if my son can come outside and play. That’s one of the unexpected things we’ve learned while living here – kids can be normal and play outside even during a global pandemic,” says Chris.
With good internet connection in the region, kids can still enjoy their computer coding and French classes while playing youth soccer on the weekends, or hiking and skiing some of the best trails in the northeast. If you’ve dreamt of escaping the concrete jungle to work remotely or even run a business in the mountains, look no further than the Western White Mountains of New Hampshire.
For state-wide information, head to VisitNH.gov